Is the Internet/Google Making Us Stupid/Smarter Debate

The main gist of Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” article is that with all of the new technologies in our generation, our attention spans are gradually decreasing because of the amount of technologies surrounding us. Carr mentions all of these researchers who claim that it’s very difficult for them to deeply read an article or a book nowadays because of the new technologies distracting them, and that it forces them to skim and bounce around the readings. I’m not sure how much new technologies have influenced our attention spans to become much shorter, but I don’t think that Google, as Carr says, is making us more stupid. It’s all just a change in our attention spans, and I think we have adjusted really well to the change new technologies has had when we read something. It makes sense because 50 years ago, if you read an article that was just about one thing, you didn’t have anywhere else to look for another article related to a similar subject, except for the library. But the problem with that is because if you wanted to find another article or book, it required time for you to stop reading and look for a similar article among the massive collections of articles and books. With the technologies we have currently, there are so many articles related to one subject and new technologies makes it so much easier to bounce around and find another article if we don’t like the first one we read. Sure, our attention spans our shorter, but if we understand what the article is talking about, I’m not too concerned about the “stupidity” we’re developing from Google. If anything, I think it makes us smarter because of our adapted ability to look for various topics we enjoy to read.

I don’t think I disagreed with one thing Clay Shirky mentioned in his “Does the Internet Make You Smarter?” article. Throughout the article, Shirky basically emphasizes that throughout all of history, ranging from movable type to the Internet, humans have gradually and continuously adapted to the new forms of writing and technologies we have been presented with. The printing press led to religious revolutions across Europe, which eventually led to eras of literature movements, which eventually led to the new technologies we are spoiled with today. Throughout all of this, humans have increasingly developed new thoughts that spread to more and more people. This is essentially the same concept going on today. With the Internet, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, we have the ability to research millions of writers, articles, books, scientific journals, etc. at the click of the mouse or laptop pad. People did not have this luxury even 25-30 years ago. Another key factor Shirky mentioned was that in the ’80s, our main resource of information was TV and with less people reading books. New technologies have changed that significantly.


“The Intimacy of Anonymity” and “One Name to Rule Them All: Facebook’s Identity Problem”

In “The Intimacy of Anonymity,” Tim Wu throughout the article discusses the various pros and cons online anonymity had had on users throughout its history. Wu goes on to explain that while online anonymity started in the ’90s, it really didn’t take off until recent years, and claims that Facebook had a lot to do with that because of how it was initially only to be reserved for Harvard chatter. But Wu also points out the negatives online anonymity has had, which includes all types of offensive and discriminatory behavior. To me, the whole online anonymity idea has never appealed to me strictly because of the dangers of cyberbullying. Yes, some people use anonymous online apps/websites to talk harmlessly between friends about various topics. However, we’ve seen so many cases related to cyberbulling and online anonymity, and it usually ends up in bad results. Wu even points out that racism, sexism, and other discriminatory behaviors have occurred several times because of online anonymity. Social media is meant for anything but harassment, so what’s so difficult about showing your name and using social media appropriately?

“One Name to Rule Them All” takes a little bit of a different twist as far as online identity goes, but authors Jessa Lingel and Tarleton Gillespie don’t seem to hesitate why having separate identities on social media is beneficial. Their article revolves around the issue drag queens had on Facebook because they preferred to having their stage names as their ID rather than their biological names, and that Facebook drew a whole lot of criticism because of their policy of having users’ profile contain their biological names. The authors emphasize throughout the article that with people having multiple identities, it is okay to have separate Facebook profiles. I personally don’t really have an issue with people having a separate Facebook ID or any separate social media IDs for that matter as long as if they use them appropriately, which includes showing your true face. I know a few people who use different profiles for different purposes, most prominently if a potential future employer decides to look at their social media pages. I personally only have one profile for each type of major social media platform because I find no need to have a separate profile. But, if someone wants a separate profile, they can go right ahead as long as it doesn’t stir any major problems, i.e. cyberbullying.

Facebook Is/Is Not Making Us Lonely Debate

When reading the “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” article by Stephen Marche, it really took me back to what we discussed in class this past Thursday on whether Facebook and social media overall is making us lonely. It is very interesting because Marche brought up some excellent points why we are becoming more lonely, and it’s difficult to disagree with him on a lot of his points simply because of the experiences I’ve been through personally. Marche repeatedly emphasizes that social media nowadays have made us lonelier than ever because we are not communicating face-to-face as often anymore compared to, say, 10 years ago. He uses all of these studies explaining all these answers about loneliness and whatnot and a lot of it fits the bill. Despite social media making everyone more lonely, the popular people are the ones that will benefit the most because they have the most contacts, whereas lonelier people will turn to social media to try and stay out of boredom. This takes me back to what my life was like a lot of times last academic year when I was still in a dorm, because my roommate, who was part of a frat, would often to go his frat house just because, and I remember checking social media the most when he was gone because I didn’t know anybody else on my floor and everyone else I knew were scattered across campus, or even off-campus. I would periodically contact people to see if they wanted to do something and sometimes it worked out, and sometimes it didn’t. But the problem was that I didn’t have a slew of contacts at my disposal if I wanted to do something, compared to other people who always had a different contact no matter the circumstance. What Marche said in his article, however, is very interesting because it connects to things that have happened to me personally.

The second article, “Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely,” by Eric Klinenberg didn’t strike me as much because his article is basically about him denying Marche’s claims and not giving Marche any counter-evidence to why Marche is wrong. Klinenberg’s argument just did not make sense to me because yes, while we are all becoming increasingly connected,the problem is that social media is making us more isolated, something Marche pointed out frequently. Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, the people who have more interpersonal friends are the only who benefit the most anyways because they are going to have more contacts than less-popular people. It really doesn’t matter what kind of social media platform we use because when we do use one, say, Facebook, we want to feel connected with one another which is why we post our own status, like a post, comment, or share something. We expect interaction of some sort because we want to feel attached with one another because that is what human nature is. Same thing for Snapchat, whether we post stuff on our stories or send a snap to somebody. The willingness to feel connected is what drives human behavior, so for example, if we send a snap to somebody and it either takes forever for them to respond or simply opens it and doesn’t snap back, it makes some people go a little crazy because they temporarily lost that connection, which makes us feel a little more lonely before we sent the snap.

So if I had one choice to decide whether social media is or isn’t making us more lonely, and not both, I’d say that social media is making us feel more lonely. While I do feel it’s a mix of both, I feel that someone who is less popular with a social media account is going to feel less lonely than someone who is less popular without a social media account simply because social media is a major component of how society is currently shaped.

“Future of Reputation” Response Questions

1) Will we enslave ourselves by making it impossible to escape from the shackles of our past and from the stain of gossip and false rumors?

I think it completely depends on our actions whenever we are in public. As long as we’re smart about things around us that people would presumably ignore or forget about, we should be okay. Should the lady have cleaned up the mess her dog left on a public train? Absolutely because that is just flat out disgusting and irresponsible. Was it necessary for the person to post that? Probably not, but in today’s day and age, people should realize that some people will post something about you without hesitation if they think it’s funny or frustrating, especially in public.

2)  How much information should we know about each other?

When you have a social media account of some sort, you are taking the risk of others communicating information about you that you probably don’t want them to know. Personally, I have a Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram account. I know I’m taking that risk of others spreading gossip and other things about me, but I also use those platforms for specific reasons. I post on Twitter the most but it’s usually about sports anyways. I don’t post my life away on any of those social media platforms, therefore a lot of people aren’t going to know as much about me compared to others who would prefer posting a lot of things about themselves.

3) How do we allow people to control their personal information without curtailing free speech or stifling freedom on the Internet?

That’s tough because nowadays, it’s not really possible for people to control their personal information because anyone can take something and post it somewhere else. I guess the only way we allow people to control their personal information is by not saying anything about them, which is an outdated concept in today’s world.

4) Should people’s social transgressions follow them on a digital map sheet that can never be expunged?

Again, this goes back to the risk taking process that people go through once they get a social media account. If you decide to get an account, your name will always be there for people to see what you posted. It’s a lot easier for you to not be followed if you get a private account, but even then it’s not completely safe because one of your friends/followers who are friends/followers with you can say something. It also depends on how wisely you use your social media platforms too.

5) Will the ease in inciting moral outrage create a mob driven police state?

You never know. If it gets bad enough, yes. But social media is going to keep evolving, one way or the other.

6) What ethical questions do you think new communication technologies are raising?

Well, the “Future of Reputation” article definitely brings up these types of questions. There’s a lot that the list is almost endless. Is it smart to post this and that? Should this person have a social media account? What do everyday citizens need to do to further protect themselves from being posted somewhere? You could keep going with these questions, but because technology is ever increasing, the ethical debate will always be there.

“It Takes a Village to Find a Phone” and “Love Online”

The first reading, “It Takes a Village to Find a Phone,” is basically about how posting just one item on social media can go viral in almost an instant. When Evan created his webpage that explained what happened to Ivanna’s phone, the webpage got so much attention that Sasha began receiving threats for her actions. The NYPD eventually got involved and the case was eventually settled without charge for Sasha.  Now, it was Ivanna’s responsibility to not lose her phone, but it was also unnecessary for Sasha to keep an item that didn’t belong to her, much less use harsh language when Evan wanted to know what happened.  The first reading just goes to show how trans-formative technology has become in our society, let alone ten years ago when this incident happened. A lot of people would probably think ten years ago? What would people have ten years ago? Well, this article answered that question very interestingly. Yes, social media was not as powerful back then as it is now, but it still showed a glimpse of how powerful social media can be, especially if someone uses it to search for a lost item. Would I create my own website to help a friend in search of a lost item? Probably not. But I would definitely use other social media platforms because that is essentially one of the largest platforms we rely on currently.

The second reading, “Love Online,” was interesting because of how influential online dating could actually be to some people. I personally have never been thrilled with the idea of online dating, because I think it’s risky to begin with. Not only that, but it also adds in the travelling factor that Henry had to do just to meet Sarah for the first time, which I think is a little crazy. But, if it works out for people, then there’s no reason for them to hesitate. The whole online dating thing between Henry and Sarah did work out at one point, but one of the main reasons why they broke up was because Sarah’s father did not approve of it. This is true because it just adds too much stress to something that could have been avoided. There’s so many other people out there for Henry or Sarah to meet, and I think it would go more smoothly for each of them if they went out and started dating someone in person that lives closer.